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Skywest Airlines has appealed the decision of the U.S. Department of Transportation to award Watertown’s Essential Air Service to Denver Air Connection.  The announcement came in a letter from Skywest Airlines to the U.S. Department of Transportation dated April 28th.   

The decision to award the service to Denver Air Connection was announced last month by the Department of Transportation. 

In a letter from Greg Atkin, Market Director of Skywest Airlines to the USDOT, Atkin says  “Denver Air Connection’s proposal poses both financial and operational risk that will likely impact their ability to operate sustainably and will have a negative impact on the communities.”   

Atkin said that DAC’s proposal indicates they will be able to generate more passengers annually then Skywest did in the year ending March 2020, just before the pandemic’s onset in the United States.   He said, “That is unlikely considering they are offering communities 31,200 fewer seats annually, removing the United Airlines codeshare and replacing it with a mere interline baggage transfer agreement, and also providing less connective schedules at higher fares.” 

According to the letter, Skywest had met or exceeded all five of the statuary selection criteria. Atkin says  it is “perplexing” and “disappointing” that Skywest was not selected to continue the Essential Airlines to both Watertown and Pierre.    

Skywest Airlines, the largest operator of Essential Air Service in the United States said they have rarely appealed an order selecting air carrier in the many decades the have participated in the program.